Like Fr. Roy Bourgeois, many of them supported the ministries of Maryknoll around the world as missionaries, priests, or sisters.
Now, as the priest faces expulsion from the missionary order for his backing of women's ordination, they're publicly supporting him.
Writing that they have experienced "sadness and regret" since the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers announced its move against Bourgeois in March, 127 people with close ties to the order have written to Bourgeois expressing support -- telling the priest that his superiors possess "neither the courage, nor the wisdom, nor the requisite diplomacy to affirm you and your prophetic ministry."
The letter, which was released Oct. 6 as the order was celebrating its 100th anniversary with a symposium at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, is signed by people from across the country who served with Maryknoll in some capacity over the years. Among those listed as signers are a number of former priests, and three people still living abroad, in Peru, Bolivia, and Armenia.